It can be very difficult writing essays at a higher level. You are not only developing the techniques necessary to pass your A levels but also to succeed at university.
Here are some of my top tips to not only help you write an essay but how to write a blooming good one!
Top tips: Treat your examiner as if they:
- Haven’t learnt the topic. This means everything you write needs to be fully explained. From all the key words you include, to any quotes or examples – all must be explained. (All the way through writing your essay have the words “what does that mean?” as a running internal monologue) – Check out “How do I improve my grade?”: Assess the Obvious to help.
- Do not understand anything you write. Just because you understand what you are trying to say, does not mean your examiner will. You must make your point then re- explain it in a different way, to guarantee that you are clear in your points.
- Have a different view point to what you are saying. Treat your examiner as if they are always going to disagree with whatever you say (like an annoying sibling or teacher!). This means that you cannot only raise a point – you must argue your point. (All the way through writing your essay have the words “why? why? why?” as a running internal monologue)
Once you accept that your examiner will read your essay/ coursework as though they have limited understanding the clearer your writing will be.
- Ask a parent or friend to read your essay and ask for critical feedback – do they understand your essay? (This will really help develop the above top tips)
- Proof read your work – this is an essential skill you must learn in order to succeed at university. (Proof reading involves carefully reading over your essay – maybe out loud- to see if your sentences make sense, structure works, obvious spelling mistakes)
- Pick out the key words in the question then highlight these exact words every time you have used them in your answer (e.g The concept of reincarnation is incoherent. Discuss) Why is this so important? Answer: because then you have answered the question throughout!
Tips for writing the essay:
- A quote in the introduction is supposed to grab the reader’s attention. This quote only has to be related to the question, not directly answering it. Your job is to explain the quote in your own words and link it to the question – explain the relevance (see Let me ‘Introduce’ myself: Writing an Introduction).
- The more you explore the meaning of the words in the question (i.e. best way, fantasy, no sense) through your answer the better you will do. This is based on your understanding of the words (there are no right or wrong interpretations) it’s about exploring the word and what implications this word has on your argument.
- Conclusion: If you don’t have a point of view on the question then you can’t write a conclusion because you have nothing to conclude on! A conclusion should be the easiest part of your essay because it is your closing paragraph, where you summarise your key points and put the boot in once and for all, in relation to the question (see It’s Over: Concluding an Essay).
Every time you write a point think about what you are writing. Does the argument you are explaining make sense? Is it coherent? Is it logical? What are the problems with it? Is it flawless? (Check out: Are you arguing with me?: Adding the ‘critical’ to your critical analysis)
Check out this Tips from a Tired Teacher Preview on Exam Mistakes and How to Avoid Them:
To continue watching this Top Tips video as well as having access to all 30 revision podcasts and Mark with Me’s then join I Think Therefore I Teach’s exclusive membership on the Home page.
For further guidance in developing your essay technique just click on the image below to be transferred to the shop.